A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Habit or Complacency

Here's what I've noticed.  Back in April when I started really paying attention to what I was eating, I felt focused to the point of obsession.  I tracked all my food (still do), and I really felt as though I were "working hard" at losing weight.  Which meant, working hard at refraining from mindless eating.

I don't feel as focused now.  This actually scares me.  I was thinking about this:  how can I get back on track?  But then I realized, I'm not actually off-track.  I've been remarkably consistent and careful about how I eat now for several months.  I find that even when I have the caloric capacity to eat something that's not overly nutritious (donut, scone, whatever), I find that for the calories involved, I'd rather have a turkey sandwich.  I actually feel better eating better food.  But this concept of "not trying" still makes me nervous. 

The good news is, I think that means that eating well--good food, not too much--has become a habit, more or less.  There are still foods that I find it difficult not to overeat.  Last night's pizza is one such example.  I might be thinking about this because of last night.  As a practical matter, one pizza orgy night is not going to ruin me.  But it will slow me down, and that's disappointing.

Anyway, I'm trying to get over the nervousness of feeling comfortable with a new way of life.  Weird, right?  Weird but nice, in a way.  I don't feel deprived.  I feel as though I'm actually taking care of myself.  I kind of like it. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yay! Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving.  I have some advice (this is really for myself, but if it helps you, great).  First, though, the non-advice.  Last night, on The Biggest Loser, a guy tried to sell everybody on whipping up cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.  Bullshit.  I've tried that.  It's not the same, it's not that easy to do, and it's not going to help you if you're jonesing for potatoes made with some cream or milk and butter.  Eat the damn potatoes, and enjoy every bit.  Fuck the cauliflower.  (I might put that on a shirt.)

The advice:  It's a day, not a weekend.  Ideally, it's a meal.  Same for Christmas.  Here in America, the Holidays start with Halloween and end with New Year's Day (or even the Superbowl).  It's the wrong approach.  A feast is a historic rarity.  Keep it that way.

A friend has a situation.  First, a little about her.  She is from the south.  Her parents are heavy.  She grew up fat (we have traded stories about what that's like).  Then in high school she lost 130 pounds and started competing in beauty pageants.  She did well.  Later she went to law school, and she works in a big city.  Wow, right?

Her parents are still heavy.  Her mom has some health problems that mean she really can't walk.  Her dad, however, eats.  Thirty years ago, he was a normal-weight guy.  A couple of years ago, however, he was about 580 pounds, and he was having health problems.  He was going to have lapband surgery, but he had to lose weight first (100 pounds, maybe).  Talk about irony.  They told him to keep it below 4000 calories a day.  That's a lot.  Some days I struggle to get 2600.  I am rarely really hungry.

My friend told me yesterday her dad is up to 651.  He has apparently been eating more than 4000 calories a day.  He will not be able to walk her down the aisle next year.  He will not be able to dance with her at her wedding.  He and her mother are visiting her in right now, and they cannot leave her apartment without her help.  By the time they get to the front door of her building, he has to take a rest.

She is both heartbroken and angry.  He is 55.  I ran the numbers.  He could eat about 4900 calories a day and lose weight.  If he gets down to 550, he could have the surgery (though if you could lose 100 pounds without surgery, why do it?).

I've been pretty big (hell, I still am), but I don't know how you get that big without changing something.  If you've read much of this blog, you know that I think this has to do with emotional and addiction-type issues.  But how far does any addiction go before you say, hold on.  I guess I know the answer.  Sometimes people don't say hold on.  Sometimes addictions kill them.

I have no advice for my friend, either.  Enjoy him while he's here, I guess.  I'm losing because I want to, and every time someone tried to talk to me about it out of love, I'd get pissed off anyway.  I don't know how  you get someone to take care of himself if he doesn't want to.  And clearly, someone is helping him get bigger.  I wonder what will happen when he can't leave the house at all.

I say I'm in it for the clothes, and while part of that is shtick, it's also true.  Lots of people talk about losing weight for health, but I have no interest in health when I feel shitty about the way I look.  For me it's all of a piece.  And having a doctor tell me once a year that my cholesterol and triglycerides look great is not enough to get me to the gym.  The linen pants in my closet that I love and have not been able to wear in years will.

What will work for my friend's dad?  No idea.  I hope he will find the maximum of what he's comfortable weighing soon.  I found it a few years ago, and I started dropping weight.  I am now at the lowest I've been in ten years.  I am also at the highest I ever want to be again.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the food today.  But today only!

Monday, November 22, 2010

No whining!

I was thinking today that I must sound like a whiner much of the time.  All things considered, though, most things in my life are pretty good.  This morning, I was driving to a hotel to do a deposition, and I felt good--very good.  I was surprised.  It's possible that this was because I went to the gym yesterday.  Maybe it was just a good day.

In any event, I was reading www.whoatemyblog.com, a blog by a guy who has lost over 200 pounds and still weighs over 400 pounds.  Where to begin.  He has posted two photos recently of NSVs--non-scale victories.  One was fitting into a seat at a stadium for the first time (and the attendant ease of going to the game) and one was fitting behind the seat of a Honda Element, a vehicle he'd wanted to buy but couldn't because he was too fat.  I'm really happy for the guy.  I have never been too fat to fit behind the wheel of a car.  I haven't ever been too fat to sit in a stadium seat (not saying they've all been the most comfortable places to park it).  I've always been a long way from 600 pounds.  In fact, this dude outweighs me by a lot, even now.

But damn, good for him.  I hope he sticks with it for a long time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Ok, I'm not really in maintenance.  I'm losing very slowly.  I'm ok with this (mostly).  It hit me that I dropped between 35 and 40 pounds in, say four months, from April to July.  This was at least 10% of my body weight.  That's a lot.  Right?  It doesn't feel like enough because I have a ways to go.  But it's a lot.

I also haven't been exercising regularly in the last few weeks.  Part of this is because of my work and sleep schedule.  Part of this is the whole back injury thing (much better, thanks).  Sleep is key to everything for me.  If I don't sleep well, it's easy for me to feel a drive to eat poorly.  It also tends to fuel depression in me.  I know that lack of sleep promotes weight gain.  If I have to make a choice between sleep and working out, sleep will win, and I don't feel bad about it.

But I like working out.  I don't like planning it, but I like it once I'm there, and I like having done it.  Everything hangs better.  I'm going today.  Didn't sleep well, so I'll need a nap, too.

So, I have a confession to Weight Watchers.  I haven't tracked points in almost a month.  I've been tracking calories on Livestrong.  It's got a good food database, and the price is right.  I made the transition because I've been reading about BMR and caloric need, and I decided that WW, which allows a max of 44 points (plus an additional 35 a week) might have been giving me too little.  (Want to eat a lot more without putting on weight?  Gain 100 pounds.  No wait--don't.)  WW's point values vary, but 50 calories per point is a good average.  That makes 44 points about 2200 calories.  Every BMR calculator I looked at puts me 400-500 calories higher than that.  So I decided to track both for a while and see where I was.

As a practical matter, there wasn't much difference.  WW puts more emphasis on fat and fiber than simple calorie counting does.  Livestrong is interesting, because it calculates the percentage of fat, protein, and carbs you're eating.  I tend to eat pretty low fat, but arguably not enough fat or protein.  (I bought some nuts this at the grocery yesterday.  This should help.)

I might stop WW altogether.  Meetings on Sunday morning at 8am are tough (though I'm awake right now.  I could go).  But I've been doing pretty well on my own.  Even yesterday, when I felt a great desire to eat all manner of crappy food, I mostly didn't, and I stayed on target calorically.  So far, I guess, I just want to be healthier than I have been.  Who knew?

Today, I will measure--arms, waist, thigh, calf, neck.  I wish I'd tracked these from the beginning.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm going to write a word.  You say the next thing you think of.  Ready?

Weight loss.

Did you think, "Journey?"  I bet you did.  "Weight loss journey" is a cliche.  I just googled it and got 456,000 results in .31 seconds.  (This is not an ad for Google.)  I HATE the word journey.  Hate it.

Because journeys end.  Are you changing your life or not?  If it's a journey, what do you do when you get there?  If you're like me, twice before, you say, "Hey, I'm cured," and then you get fat again.  I'm not going to do that again.  And by refusing to call this Skip's Journey, I'm not buying into the finality of weight loss.

The War on Fat is kind of like the War on Terror (don't get me started)--it will go on every day until, well, until it doesn't.  The War on Fat is relentless.  It is a series of decisions, made daily, maybe by the hundreds, until you're gone.  Or until you've given up.

I think people call it a journey because being a fat person is so defining.  And it does define you.  People view fat people a certain way.  It also creates limitations.  I can't go on a zipline tour.  I'm pretty sure I'm too fat for a Segway.  I have seen blog postings about people who were too fat to wipe themselves (happily, not me).  There are travel issues--at a minimum the seat belt extender (which I no longer need, happily).  True story--I got bumped from an exit row because the rule was that if you need an extender, you can't sit there.  That was both annoying and humiliating.  So I think people call it a journey because it's a life change that they can't really imagine until they get there.  It's like your first trip to Europe.  You can read everything, talk to people, look at pretty pictures, but it's not like being there.  And then you go home.

I know what it's like to be thin in America.  It's easier to shop for clothes, to commute, to travel, to swim, to bike, to get lucky (and who doesn't want to get lucky?).  But until you're a thin person, you have no idea what it's really like. Even so, I know that I want to get there, and I don't want to go "home" afterward.

I was kind of thin a long time ago.  I don't remember much.  I remember girls checking me out.  I remember taking up less space on a couch than I had expected to.  I remember, in part, the way I no longer stood out--the anonymity.  (It's a good thing.)  I remember buying jeans at the Gap (a regular store in the mall!).  I also remember I never felt like a thin person.  I assume this feeling will be with me for the rest of my life, too.

I'm going to keep tracking my food.  I'm going to keep making good choices.  I'm going to keep eating only when I'm actually hungry.  I'm going to keep working out.  I might even lose the next 100 pounds.  But it's not a journey.  It's my life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I think 2010 will go down as the year of the injuries for me.  In March, I had posterior tibial tendonitis, due, in part, to my seriously flat feet.  Then a month ago it was the back problem.  Multi-level degenerative disc disease.  Runs in the family.

I'm sure the weight doesn't help, but such is life.  I have a (very) thin buddy who has had disc trouble for a couple of years.  Weight isn't the only variable.

It's hard not to get discouraged.  In fact, I went to the gym today for the first time in three weeks.  I have missed it, but I didn't really realize how much or in what way.  Fundamentally, it felt good to move.  I did 15 minutes on the elliptical (PT's orders) and then I did a round of core exercises.  It was just really nice to be there and do that, even for a short time.  I'll do something similar tomorrow.

I also came up with a schedule for where I'd like to be:

I started (again) April 1, 2010 at 358 (I'd been lower and had put on some pounds).  I'm right at 320 now.

Here's where and when I'd like to be.
By April 1, 2011—300.
By October 1, 2011—270
By April 1, 2012—250
By October 1, 2012—220.
By April 1, 2012—200.

That feels very ambitious.  It also feels slow.  I want to wear cool clothes now.  NOW.  I have some already that I'm close to getting into.  In a year and a half, I think I'll be able to wear anything I want.  And yes, I'm willing to have surgery to remove excess skin.

I think one of the reasons people get impatient is because you're sick of being fat now, but it takes time to lose.  It's discouraging.  It is.  But I feel better eating the way I'm eating than the way I used to (which wasn't terrible, but was too much).  The other day, I wanted a snack about 4pm and went down to the lobby of my building.  I was going to get a scone from Starbuck's, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I got a turkey sandwich from a store next door.  Saved some calories and a lot of fat.  I could have done the scone.  I had the "budget" for it.  But there are better choices.  I made one.  It might be a habit.  An actual good habit--taking care of myself.  Shocking.

It will take a while.  At least a year and a half.  But what else am I gonna do?  Order pizza?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love is the answer

I've weighed the same now since, I think August.  When I say the same, I mean within two or three pounds either side of the same weight.  I guess I'm in maintenance.  I don't know why, but what the hell.  As long as I'm not gaining, and I'm not, I can live with it.  It's frustrating, though, having some clothes that I'm almost into.  But they're not going anywhere, and neither am I.

What's strange, though, is that I'm finally accustomed how I look at this weight, approximately 35 pounds down from last April.  For a very long time, I would catch my reflection in a mirror or window and be surprised.  That's me!  Looking good!  After this long, though, I'm used to it.  Now I just know that's me.  And the old habit of self-critique is trying to come back.  That's you.  Fat.  Gross.  You suck.

I am working hard to keep that voice at bay.  But I'm also trying to observe it.  It seems to me that that voice is always going to be there trying to be heard.  If I woke up tomorrow 100 pounds lighter--where I'd like to be--I think the voice would still be there to find fault.

I think this is going to be the key to long-term maintenance:  keep that voice at bay.  And this is because--I've said it before--weight is not about the food.  It's about feeling like shit and using food to make it better.  Some people drink, some use drugs, some shop.  So the key at any weight is to keep that evil voice down.

Where does the voice come from?  No idea.  I suppose it could be early messages one gets from parents, siblings, kids at school--whatever.  The thing to remember is that it's bullshit.  I'm amazing.  Seriously.  If I weren't me, if I were my friend, I would think I'm amazing.  I don't usually think I'm amazing in real life.  I don't usually think I'm all that special.  But I have a lot of really cool, smart, good friends, and I figure I must be worth something, or they wouldn't like me.  Some days, that's all I have.  Anyway, my point is, if I'm amazing, I'm worth loving and taking care of.  I want to try to take care of myself the way I would (and do) take care of a friend who needs help.

Eating a lot is not taking care of myself.

I say all this having come off a big eating day.  I did not track.  And I think that in the end, it was not insane.  If I ate more than 3500 calories, that would surprise me.  (I'm supposed to be around 2700 to lose.)  But it felt like a big day.  One day will not break me.  But I'm not going to do that a lot.  In fact, I haven't done that more than a couple of times since April.  I'm ok.

The back is feeling better, but I really want to get the ok to go back to the gym.  I'm surprised at how much I miss it.

Long post, but the point is, if you want to break an addiction cycle, the first step is to appreciate and love and take care of yourself.  Love is not in a bowl of ice cream, a cookie, or a giant steak.  Love is in you.  If you can't see it, try to see yourself through your friends' eyes.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ the Buddha

Read more about this concept here.

Addendum:  Read more here, too:  http://msbitchcakes.blogspot.com/2010/10/emotional-effects-of-reaching-goal.html.
N.B.  I added up everything from yesterday.  I tried to overestimate.  I still came in under 2700.  I think my perspective on what a lot of food is has changed.